Since today is not only National Forgiveness Day but also my birthday, I thought it would be a great day to do a blog on Forgiveness. We all have been put in situations where people have done us wrong…for some, too many to count. Some wronged us without knowing it, and others with intention. Whether people treat us unfairly in life is nothing we really can control. What each and every one of us can control is how we choose to respond. Notice first the word choice. Yes, it is a choice that we make. Do we “get even” or just dismiss that person from our lives (a form of “pay back”), or are we capable of actually forgiving them? It is the latter I am blogging about today.
You see, society has an incorrect understanding in many cases around forgiveness. We perhaps grew up with our parents reprimanding us for doing things wrong and then demanding we ask for forgiveness. This virtually programmed us to believe we needed to ask for forgiveness in order to receive it. Or, the Biblical standard of asking God to forgive us from all our trespasses. Many other areas we can list that seemingly suggest in order to be forgiven you must repent or apologize or show remorse. But is that true? I suggest that it is not. I suggest each and every one of us has the ability to review any set of facts (notice facts not assertions of truth), and make our own decision on whether we choose to forgive that person or not.
I know I know, you are saying “but why should I forgive someone who did my wrong and truly shows no remorse?” Well, weigh for yourself. What benefit do you get from carrying unforgiveness? Generally ,the first thing that arises in response is “well they don’t deserve it.” Really? People need to deserve every emotional response you give to them? You are incapable of loving a sinner? A person who doesn’t know any better, or had a really terrible upbringing is expected by you to respond identically to one who had a very enlightened childhood? Where do these expectations come from? Yes, you. You made them up as somewhere you concluded they were the “normal societal behaviors.”
Well, if you truly believe that bearing judgement and grudges is an effective way of approaching life, then I suspect you feel you are right. I suggest that being free of judgment and releasing grudges allows your heart to be more open than ever to enjoy the capacity for greater love and shedding more light in our world.
My example of this is very personal to me. My sister-in-law shot and killed my brother over 20 years ago. It was totally unprovoked, and to let you know just a little about him, the comparison of my brother to Jesus was made by many people including myself. He was awesome and loved by every soul he met. I was devastated. I loved him so very much! And they had two beautiful children, a 16 year old son and 14 year old daughter.
My response? Much like anyone elses’: angry as a rattlesnake and just cried out “why oh why did my sister-in-law not just take her own life if she was that disturbed!” I was in such incredible pain, none like that had I ever experienced. I went to a friend’s church as I was out of town. and just cried out at God. “Why” was the question over and over and over again. But no answer ever came. It did allow me however after 3-4 hours, to release much of my venom!
I woke the next morning and focused on the next day the next week the next year. You see, this was just a day, a day that was now in our past. Although I would always love my brother and never ever allow his beauty and memories pass from my mind, I had greater things to do to truly love and honor him. I also recognized that carrying unforgivenes is a heavy burden, negative and dark upon my soul. So, I chose to “forgive her” even without one ounce of reason why she could possibly deserve it. I knew too that I was going to be so blessed to take in their two children and raise them. How could I love them with all I have carrying that unforgiveness? Allowing it to dampen my emotions by burning up so much energy negatively would neither serve me nor my brother’s children. So, yes forgiveness is a choice.
I am hoping this blog impacts you. I challenge you to let go any and all unforgiveness you may be carrying. It is not about BEING RIGHT! Yes, you might be right! Yes, they may have harmed you in some way. But understand carrying that and allowing it to stop you from living your best life, shining that light that the world needs to see spring forth from you not only robs you…but all of us as well.
Maybe today is not that day. But my prayer is that then let it be tomorrow or the next day. But you taking the steps to truly freeing yourself of that bondage is huge. I hope you see doubling down on evil/harm/shame never really benefits anyone. Yes, you do get to be right. But you get to be joyful, and free and energetic by forgiving them and yes, that is “right” in a healthy way.
Check out my book on forgiveness at https://merrijohillaker.com/impossible-place/